By Emma Amaize & Festus Ahon
WARRIâ€”POLICEMEN have been deployed to the College of Physical Education, Mosogar in Delta State consequent upon an indefinite strike ordered by the joint unionsâ€™ executives of the institution over the suspension of union leaders by the authorities for three months with half salary for allegedly fighting for better welfare for the workers.
Vanguard was told yesterday that policemen were drafted to the school on the request of the Governing Council of the institution and that tension has mounted over the development, as the unions have vowed not to be intimidated.
The chairman of the joint unions, comprising Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), Senior Staff Union of Colleges of Education of Nigeria (SSUCOEN) and Non Academic Staff Union of Colleges of Education (NASU), Comrade Richard Igbunu, maintained yesterday that the strike would continue until the authorities withdrew the suspension letters served the affected union executives.
Other conditions given by the angry workers were the withdrawal of â€œundueâ€ query given the chairman of NASU on June 4, at the instance of the chairman of the Governing Council; withdrawal of queries given the vice chairman of SSSUCOEN and the registrar of the college on June 9, also at the instance of the chairman of the council; and conclusive negotiations with the unionsâ€™ executives on the demands of staff in their letter to the provost and management, dated April 27, and the demands of COEASU in its April 29 letter.
The unions had, before the current impasse, issued a 21 â€“day ultimatum on May 26, which was backdated to May 19, but suspended on June 2 to pave way for implementation by the management. However, it restated the 21-day ultimatum on June 15 following alleged managementâ€™s refusal to take positive advantage of the suspension.
The restored ultimatum expired on June 17 and another 14-day ultimatum was issued in which the management was further implored to invite the unions for dialogue if it was genuinely committed to resolving the demands of the workers.
It was learnt that the suspension of the union executives by the management forced the joint unions to declare an indefinite strike.
Mosogar College of Physical Education suspends six staff
UGHELLIâ€”THE Governing Council of Delta State College of Physical Education, Mosogar, has suspended six staff of the institution for insubordination.
The six persons are Richard Igbunu, Charles Itedjere, Vincent Akpobome, Sunday Okumagba, Oghenebrume Mudiaga and Charles Chanai.
Briefing newsmen in Mosogar on the councilâ€™s decision after an emergency meeting, the chairman of the Governing Council, Chief Joe Omene, said the suspension was three months with half salary in the first instance.
Omene also disclosed that the council has set up a six-man committee to look into the activities of the suspended staff and to recommend possible punishment if any, for the erring staff members.
According to him, the committee has four weeks to submit its report.
Explaining the reasons behind the governing councilâ€™s decision, Omene said the staff who claimed to represent the three categories of workers in the institution went over the council to write a petition to the state Commissioner for Higher Education and copied same to various individuals which was against the rules establishing the institution.
He said the action was illegal as it failed to follow due process which states that every grievance against the institution management must first be taken to the council.
He noted that if the council was unable to settle the issue involved, it was taken to this institutionâ€™s visitor, the governor of the state that should now take up the matter.
Omene said about three months ago, three unions representing the Academic Staff, Non Academic Staff (Junior workers) and Non Academic Staff (Senior workers), were inaugurated for the first time since the establishment of the institution.
Omene stated that barely two weeks after the inauguration, the unionsâ€™ executives jointly wrote a letter to the management issuing seven points demand.
According to him, the unions demanded for the implementation of Consolidated Tertiary Institution Salary Scale (CONTISS); stoppage of pension deduction and refund of deducted monies; effective date of promotion; payment of 28 days accommodation on first appointment; implementation of free medical care for staff, their spouse and four children; payment of other outstanding approved allowances; and the inclusion of unionsâ€™ representatives in the institutions committees.
Omene said the schoolâ€™s management was addressing the issue after a meeting with unionsâ€™ representatives on May 15, 2009 before a disgruntled group decided to write to the commissioner without recourse to due process.
He accused the suspended staff of attempting to recruit the youth leader of Mosogar community to assist them in destabilizing the institution which could lead to the shutting down of the college.